The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
On Earth Day, the world comes together to take a hard look at the state of our planet and to inspire people and nations to become catalysts for change.
The movement began on April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.
Now, 48 years later, Earth Day has become a global event each year and more than 1 billion people in 192 countries will come together again Sunday for Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution.
The Arctic spring is arriving 16 days earlier than it did a decade ago, according to a new study which shows climate change is shifting the season earlier more dramatically the further north you go.
The research, published on Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, comes amid growing concern about the warming of Greenland, Siberia, Alaska and other far northern regions, which have recently experienced unusually prolonged and frequent midwinter temperature spikes.
An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.
Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.
The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.
Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.
A few days before Christmas last year, Harry Brower, mayor of Alaska’s North Slope Borough, was at home when he heard a stunning noise – the sound of waves lapping at the shore.
The sound was as wrenching and misplaced as hearing hailstones thud into the Sahara. Until fairly recently, the Arctic ocean regularly froze up hard up against the far north coast of Alaska by October. In 2017, it wasn’t until the final few days of the year that the ice encased the waves.
There was almost something biblical about the scene of devastation that lay before Richard Kock as he stood in the wilderness of the Kazakhstan steppe. Dotted across the grassy plain, as far as the eye could see, were the corpses of thousands upon thousands of saiga antelopes. All appeared to have fallen where they were feeding.
Some were mothers that had travelled to this remote wilderness for the annual calving season, while others were their offspring, just a few days old. Each had died in just a few hours from blood poisoning. In the 30C heat of a May day, the air around each of the rotting hulks was thick with flies.
The same grisly story has been replayed throughout Kazakhstan. In this springtime massacre, an estimated 200,000 critically endangered saiga – around 60% of the world’s population – died. “All the carcasses in this one of many killing zones were spread evenly over 20 sq km,” says Kock, professor of wildlife health and emerging diseases at the Royal Veterinary College in London. “The pattern was strange. They were either grazing normally with their newborn calves or dying where they stood, as if a switch had been turned on. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
The 100th meridian, which bisects the Great Plains and separates the arid western states from the moister eastern states, may be shifting as a result of climate change, new studies say.
The imaginary line, metaphorically “drawn in the dirt” by American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell in 1878, transects Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas in the United States, and continues up into Canada’s Manitoba.
Powell used the line to try to convince Congress to plan water and land-management districts that crossed state lines based on environmental constraints. His suggestions were met with backlash because legislators feared interstate districts would limit growth. Considering the water issues facing western states today, perhaps legislators should have taken Powell’s theories under consideration.
A team of researchers from the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University decided to take a new look at Powell’s divide. In one study published in 2017 in the journal of the American Meteorological Society, the team confirmed that Powell was correct in his assumptions based on population and agriculture trends that have developed on opposite sides of the divide.
In a second study published in March in the AMS journal, the researchers concluded that the line appears to be moving east, which could have big impacts on farming and other pursuits.
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1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
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